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The Research Councils UK (RCUK) have put out a press release relating to a proposed policy statement on the use of open access repositories by their grant recipients. This proposal has existed and been widely circulated in draft form and lays out a possible position on open access by the major government research funders.
The position is based on four principles:
- Ideas and knowledge derived from publicly-funded research must be made available and accessible for public use, interrogation, and scrutiny, as widely, rapidly and effectively as practicable.
- Effective mechanisms are in place to ensure that published research outputs must be subject to rigorous quality assurance, through peer review.
- The models and mechanisms for publication and access to research results must be both efficient and cost-effective in the use of public funds.
- The outputs from current and future research must be preserved and remain accessible not only for the next few years but for future generations.
The policy as proposed would make it mandatory for grant recipients to deposit a copy of their research articles in an open access repository. Maybe significantly, the proposal does not give a time limit for deposition to occur, although it says that it should be done "at the earliest opportunity, wherever possible at or around the time of publication". In addition, the requirement to deposit material will only apply where publishers give their permission for this to happen. Although the proposal represents a significant advance in the official recognition, approval and use of open access repositories, these two terms may act to reduce the eventual impact of any policy in providing timely open access to research materials.
The proposal is the mid-term result of a large scale consultation exercise among the governmental, commercial and academic stakeholders. This release of this proposal has initiated a further round of consultation, which will close on August 31st 2005.